By Rebecca Gawthorne – Dietitian & Nutritionist
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For many of us, chocolate is our biggest problem - chocolate with a cup of tea, a little bit of chocolate as a snack, chocolate biscuits, chocolate for a energy boost, chocolate cake, chocolate slice….basically chocolate everything! But along with all of this sumptuous, mouth-watering chocolate comes the unwanted kilos! It doesn’t take much chocolate to put on a few kilo’s, especially if you just scoff it without even realising how much you've actually eaten. So if you want to eat your chocolate but avoid the extra weight gain, you may want to try the proven technique of mindful eating!
What is Mindful Eating?
Originating from ancient Buddhist practices, mindfulness is a practice of being aware of your moment – to - moment subjective conscious experience. It is about focusing your attention and awareness on the present moment to help disconnect from habitual, unsatisfying and harmful habits and behaviours. Mindful eating, put simply, is the opposite of mindless eating; that is when you eat for reasons other than hunger (think emotions, stress, boredom, avoidance, habit etc.). Mindless eating can show itself through over eating, grazing, picking/nibbling and bingeing. It can happen at any time of the day including at main meals, between meals, snack times and even overnight. If non-hungry eating occurs on a regular basis, it can create unbalanced eating habits, lead to weight gain or difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. It can also affect your emotional and mental state, stress and hormone levels.
In comparison, mindful eating helps us to become aware of our eating and positively respond to food, both physically and emotionally. Adopting a mindful eating mentality involves:
- Being aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities of food preparation and consumption
- Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing and nourishing
- Using your senses to explore, savour and taste food
- Acknowledging responses to food without judgement
- Being aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide decisions to start and stop eating
- Identifying personal triggers for mindless eating
Why Practice Mindful Eating?
Practising mindful eating will help you recognise true physical hunger, allow you to control the amount of food, including chocolate, that you eat and help you truly enjoy chocolate when you do eat it, but not over consume it! Mindful eating can also assist in maintaining your weight or even losing weight!
How to Practice Mindful Eating
- Before you eat, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry? Could I just be thirsty? Am I eating because I’m stressed or emotional?
- Sit down at the table to eat your meal/snack i.e. don’t eat in front of the TV at your desk or in the car
- Be present in your eating experience – take a few deep breaths and think about what you are going to eat before you start
- Look at the colours and textures of the food and smell it
- Eat slowly, taking at least 20 mintues to finish your meal
- Pay attention to the taste and texture in your mouth
- Chew each mouthful well; at least 5 – 10 times
- Put utensils or food down between mouthfuls
- Every few minutes check in with your hunger signals
- Stop eating just before you feel full and wait 10-20 minutes before eating more food if you are still hungry
Healthy Treat Recipe
Whilst these Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls and Chocolate Fudge are still treats, they are a healthier version of many chocolate recipes out there! Try them and when you do, practice the mindful eating strategies above!
Choc-Peanut Butter Balls
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 4 tbs maple syrup
- 4 tbs coconut flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
- ½ tbs coconut oil
- In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and maple syrup well, until they thicken.
- Stir in the coconut flour & then salt.
- Shape into small balls; approx. 15.
- In a small pot, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil and heat over low heat, stirring frequently.
- With a fork, dip the balls into the melted chocolate; tap off excess chocolate & place the balls on a cutting board lined with grease-proof paper.
- Place balls in the freezer for around 20 minutes until or until firm.
- Enjoy mindfully.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Fudge
- ½ Cup Coconut Oil
- 1/3 Cup Cacao Powder (not cocoa- there’s a big difference in health benefits)
- 1/3 Cup Chocolate Protein Powder
- 1 Large Ripe Banana
- 6 Pitted Medjool Dates
- ½- 2/3 Cup of Natural Peanut or Almond Butter
1. Melt coconut oil in saucepan and stir in cacao powder and chocolate protein powder
2: In a food processor mix together banana and dates
3: Add mixture to coconut oil and chocolate in saucepan
4. Stir in nut butter of choice
5. Pour combined mixture into a greaseproof paper lined dish and place in freezer- should set in about 30 minutes
6. Cut into squares and enjoy!
If you struggle to control your sweet tooth, try adding Peach Vida Glow to your glass of water. This will add a nice subtle sweet taste and help with your sugar craving!